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U.S. Setting Up Special Ops in Embassies

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060308/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/special_operations_embassies;_ylt=Aqw8N48Aoy3Jw0vtz9NWR1myFz4D;_ylu=X3oDMTA5aHJvMDdwBHNlYwN5bmNhdA-- U.S.
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 8, 2006
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      http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060308/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/special_operations_embassies;_ylt=Aqw8N48Aoy3Jw0vtz9NWR1myFz4D;_ylu=X3oDMTA5aHJvMDdwBHNlYwN5bmNhdA--

      U.S. Setting Up Special Ops in Embassies

      By ROBERT BURNS, AP Military Writer Wed Mar 8, 3:35 PM
      ET

      WASHINGTON - The U.S. military command in charge of
      counterterrorism campaigns is putting small teams of
      special operations troops in U.S. embassies to support
      the global war on terror, officials said Wednesday.

      The presence of these teams, which began at least two
      years ago but has not been publicly announced by U.S.
      Special Operations Command, was first reported in
      Wednesday's editions of The New York Times.

      The special operations troops do not operate under
      cover. They are present with the knowledge of both the
      U.S. ambassador and the host government, officials
      said.

      Navy Lt. Cmdr. Steve Mavica, a spokesman for Special
      Operations Command in Tampa, Fla., said the teams are
      known as "military liaison elements" and operate as
      single individuals or small groups. They work for the
      U.S. commander responsible for the region in which
      they are located. That would mean any based in U.S.
      embassies in the Middle East would report to Gen. John
      Abizaid, the commander of U.S. Central Command.

      The teams "play a key role" in coordination and
      planning in connection with security efforts and
      counterterrorism, Mavica said. He declined to answer a
      reporter's additional questions such as how many
      countries the teams operate in and whether the
      Pentagon is expanding their presence globally, as the
      Times reported.

      Mavica also declined to say when the program began.

      Bryan Whitman, a senior Pentagon spokesman, said the
      program was started "a couple of years ago" but was
      not more specific. He said these liaisons are the only
      military personnel inside U.S. embassies who work for
      the regional military commander rather than for the
      ambassador.

      Whitman described the liaisons' duties as
      complementary to those of an embassy's defense
      attache, which is the military officer who works for
      the ambassador to coordinate with the host country's
      armed forces.

      The Times reported that the move is opposed by some in
      the Central Intelligence Agency who view it as
      treading on their turf.

      The newspaper said the liaison teams gather
      intelligence on terrorists. Whitman would say only
      that they help provide a regional military commander
      with improved "situational awareness," a term
      generally synonymous with intelligence.

      The Times reported that the liaison teams have been
      sent to more than a dozen embassies in Africa,
      Southeast Asia and South America.
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